Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Oatmeal Chocolate Raisin Cookies for British Bakers

I was basically raised on cookies (if you see early pictures of me, you can probably tell), and on this recipe in particular. Americans will probably recognize it as the recipe on the box/tin/bag of Quaker Oats. It's a wonderful mixture of oats and brown sugar and - with my additions - chocolate and raisins that is wonderfully hearty and just simply wonderful. It was my go-to cookie recipe, until I moved to the UK.

Every time I tried to replicate the recipe here in Britain, it never turned out right. The cookies just turned out really, really flat and with a bit of a greasy sheen, which I knew, from experience, wasn't right.

It wasn't until I was doing some research last night that I stumbled across people who actually knew something about baking and I discovered that, despite what everyone and everything tells you, all-purpose flour and plain flour are not the same. They should be perfectly interchangeable for cakes, bar cookies and quick breads, but when it comes to drop cookies and American recipes, you'll want to do something else.

If you're in the UK and are trying an American drop cookie recipe, use at least half and half of  (Strong) White Bread Flour and Plain Flour to substitute for all purpose, or add an extra 25% of plain flour on top of what the recipe suggests for all-purpose. Plain flour doesn't have enough protein (gluten) to counteract all the other ingredients recommended in American recipes, and protein is what holds everything together. The gluten in plain flour is lower than in all-purpose, and this really shows when my drop cookies end up like greasy oatmeal paper instead of the little hills of heaven that they should be. Like these. Yum.

Oatmeal Chocolate Raisin Cookies for British Bakers

225g butter, softened
200g soft brown sugar
110g granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla (licking any spilled bourbon-based vanilla extract from your hand is not recommended)
85g plain flour
85g strong white flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp salt (use 1/2 tsp if using unsalted butter)
270g porridge oats (I prefer traditional cut)
250g of chocolate covered raisins (I prefer these to chocolate chips, as many British chocolate chips are too small and often get lost in these cookies)

Preheat oven to 180° C.

Beat butter and sugars together. Add eggs and vanilla and stir until well-combined. 

Mix in flours, bicarbonate of soda, and salt, then the oats and chocolate covered raisins. Form cookies into small balls (I use a small ice cream scoop with a release lever), place on baking paper on tray, and bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before moving them to the cooling rack so they don't fall apart.

Thanks to the internet for the help in achieving my dream cookie in the UK!